Today I have a story in the Business section about Florida's universities looking into new technology for campus emergency warnings. But let's not forget our community colleges, which have a big challenge in getting in touch with multiple campuses in a moment's notice.
Miami Dade College has also made efforts to improve its communications strategy. It sends students warnings through mass e-mail messages, loud speakers on campuses, the MDC website and of course, through media outlets. Beverly Counts Rodrigues, media relations director at MDC, told me that the school is looking into adding services to send out mass voice messages to cellphones.
And Broward Community College has better organized its emergency strategies, said BCC spokeswoman Jillian Krueger Pritz. Before Virginia Tech, each BCC campus had a plan in place to deal with emergencies, but each campus wasn't exactly sure what the other campuses procedures were. Now each campus knows who to contact on other campuses and what everyone's procedures are, so that communication is more efficient.
BCC also communicates to students and staff through the website, e-mail blasts and the campus phone lines. And there are also plans to have security walk from building to building to clear out rooms. Krueger Pritz said with small campuses, that typically takes around 20 to 30 minutes, just in case staff didn't get the message via phones. There is also a hotline number working 24/7 to give the status updates on the college and if campuses are closed. But she also told me funding is hard to come by to install new and expensive technology, so for the time being, BCC is working with the resources it has and with city emergency response teams.